Re: Discussion: Pimps, Pride, and Politics

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John Davies (
Tue, 13 Oct 1998 11:26:08 +0100

Dear all,

It appears that the discussion around influencers has been transmogrified
into the arena of confrontational North American rhetorical politics. I had
already wondered if part of the recent discourse's problem was a North
American cultural thing that was flying right over the top of my consensual
European head.

"Pimp Pride", "Fascist", "Nazis" "Nazi pimps" demonising people by shallow
and illegitimate association should be unacceptable to any reasonable
people. The first amendment fixation of the North Americans appears to have
become twisted into the confrontational framework and as such free debate
about the right to a platform appear to have been reduced to political
consideration rather than transparently addressed as a civil and moral

Demonising paedophiles is a populist and useful device to any other excluded
group seeking show their common cause with the majority and so establish
their own "normality", you reject them, we reject them too ! As a young
minister and father of young children, in a London Chapel I was required to
offer counselling to two paedophiles, I do not believe that I was adequate
to the task but I was able to offer non-prejudicial exchange. Both were men,
the first was young, predatory and self-identified as a homosexual child
molester he eventually was convicted of serious offences against young boys,
and has been a repeat offender. The second was an older man who was sexually
attracted to prepubescent girls, he had never committed a criminal offence
but he believed that he was at serious risk of doing so. He eventually
sought to manage his condition by joining an all male, closed, religious
community where he would not have contact with young girls. He has never
been a sexual abuse perpetrator, he will always be a potential abuser.
However he has complete acceptance within a community that helps him manage
his feelings while also allowing him to be a valuable contributor.

The inability of our communities to engage with paedophiles and to offer
support and acceptance to non-perpetrating paedophiles within communities
where their risk can be managed is a serious part of the problem. Without
support I believe that the majority of paedophiles will become sexual abuse
perpetrators, and many will become perpetrators while they are still
children themselves. Being a paedophile does not mean you are a sexual abuse
perpetrator, it means if you act out your desires and sexual preferences you
will become a sexual abuse perpetrator.

I believe that the recent exchange has clearly shown that the use of the
word pimp is clearly problematic, any incapacity to accommodate this fact,
has only produced a type of denial and rhetoric that only serves to expose
futher the problem within the discourse. Pimp as an unassailable article of
faith is very limiting and is clearly rhetoric.

I now believe that the pimp issue is only symptomatic of another condition,
that has its foundation in the North American tradition of confrontational
politics. I have serious doubts about the value of this tradition and model
in developing any reasonable consensus.

There is no indignation on the list about confronting those who abuse anyone
involved in sex work. The problem is that pimp is not considered an
appropriate designation, for all of the many reasons stated.

When you damn the "basic dictionary" pimps, you condemn many adults and
children who are legally pimps but are benign or non-abusive . You can not
retrospectively redefine pimp to exclude the benign and non-abusive without
implicitly acknowledging that the use of pimp is problematic.

Maybe I should organise a march of children, young adults, and others who
are criminalised by pimp legislation, and then who are demonised by pimp
rhetoric. We should attend these rallies and meetings and ask people to be
held accountable for our social exclusion and unjustified identification
with abusers.

I must confess that I found this recent posting very disappointing.

However it is obvious that we must examine these issues in seeking to
develop equitable projects that will address trafficking and its agents.

Best regards


-----Original Message-----
From: Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network <>
To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Date: 13 October 1998 00:38
Subject: Discussion: Pimps, Pride, and Politics

>For some reason, this message will not post, so I am forwarding it myself.
>-- list facilitator
>From: "Victoria Marinelli" <>
>Subject: Pimps, Pride, and Politics
>Date: Thu, 08 Oct 1998 22:20:04 PDT
>Carol Leigh writes:
>"If I call myself a queer or a fag because I am homosexual, the terms
>are still insulting and a form of attack when used by someone who is
>targeting me in a negative way. The same is true for other terms that
>have negative implications that have been used against various people...
>The problem I have with the way the term pimp is used is that in it's
>most negative sense..."
>Perhaps it would be appropriate for us to have a "Pimp Pride" march
>then. It would probably be terribly "fascist" of me to oppose such a
>thing. Indeed, as Urvashi Vaid, the previous director of NGLTF
>indicated in her interview with Sarah Shulman in "Girlfriends" some
>years back, it would probably also be "fascist" of me to oppose a
>contingency of bonafide Nazis who would choose to march in (in other
>words: infiltrate) a gay pride celebration. As these ludicrous
>distortions, taken to their logical conclusions, would have it, it would
>be wrong of me to object (exercise my free speech rights) if a Nazi Pimp
>contingency wanted to march. "Let's hear it for the goose-steppers!"
>Meanwhile the ones being trampled are accused of censorship. (If
>desired, see my piece in this Fall's Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review for
>some elaboration on these themes.)
>As the woman who founded one city's annual Queer Pride march (Olympia,
>Washington, in 1991), I'm pretty well versed in queer identity politics,
>and in the traditions concerning queer pride. I recall after that first
>glorious rally one man taking the open mike, saying that he was a
>pedophile. Previous speakers had included lesbians, gays, bisexuals,
>and transgendered persons; therefore, he reasoned, his implied exclusion
>from our community constituted nothing less than censorship and
>oppression. The stunned terror in the faces of hundreds of men and
>women, who had been brave enough to show up for our first march, told me
>I was not alone in my objection. I took back the mike. There was a
>moment of silence. Then I spoke, saying that we as a community would
>not tolerate the behavior of sexual abuse perpetrators, masquerading as
>our comrades in arms. That because the GLBT community was wrongly
>criminalized, did not mean that correctly criminalized pedophiles had
>the right to latch onto us, leeching "queer identity" from us in the
>Not one other person stepped forward to object to the pedophile's
>presence. They were too terrified. But in the weeks afterward, I was
>virtually accosted in the streets by queer men and women who thanked me
>for standing up for us, for refusing to let our community be slandered
>and undermined.
>And so, Carol, it is with pimps. Pimps are not prostitutes. I don't
>know what's so hard to understand about that. If a serial killer is
>found to have been sexually abused in his childhood, do we then say that
>he is not a serial killer? Maybe he's a "ritualized death manager".
>Prostitutes are raped, criminalized, forced into a caste. It's not at
>all surprising that some of these women and men become pimps later --
>what other knowledge, besides from systems of prostitution, have they
>had access to? I don't want to repeat myself here -- I already
>responded to some of this in my reply to John Davies' "Influencers" post
>-- but I'm floored at the indignation being raised on stop-traffic (and
>elsewhere, obviously) when it comes to confronting pimps.
>While I am troubled by this, Carol, I am not unmoved by your arguments
>that anti-pimping laws sometimes work against prostituted women. Almost
>all laws work against prostituted women -- this is a feature which is
>endemic to all societies reliant upon a prostitute-caste. But I also
>know that anti-pimping laws have been very helpful for many prostituted
>women. Obviously, we who are working in earnest against trafficking,
>are going to have to get creative in response to these challenges. Call
>me crazy, but I DON'T think that rallying to attack anti-pimping
>legislation, as the organizations with which you are affiliated have
>done, is a credible answer. Rather, those who would devote energy to
>such enterprises are providing us with a clear indication of their
>alliances, which no language of pride or politics can begin to
>Victoria Marinelli
>Get Your Private, Free Email at

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